What is Coco Coir?
Coconut coir, also known as coco coir or coco peat, is popular with a wide range of consumers: Urban gardeners, container gardeners, hydroponic growers, commercial nurseries, and even homeowners with houseplants who are trying their hand at indoor gardening.
Coco coir is a versatile, natural, organic and sustainable material that is made from coconuts!
Yes, it is made from the same coconuts that we eat, although we are not dealing with the sweet, white fleshy bit found in the middle of the drupe, here we are concentrating on the lightweight growing medium made from the outer husk and hard-shell casing that surrounds it.
The coconut palm is known as the “tree of life” because it is one of the most useful trees in the world and the coconut is a versatile fruit that has a multitude of practical uses.
Being organic it is 100% compostable and perfect for a variety of uses in the home and garden, including carpets, floor mats and used for growing, as a peat free compost that is perfect for starting seeds and improving garden soil!
So how exactly do you make compost from something that you can make cakes and cocktails with?
The food industry is mainly focused on the soft white copra in the centre of the fruit, (dried coconut kernels from which coconut oil is extracted) so food production produces a lot of coconut waste in the form of husks and shells. To agriculturalists, horticulturalists, gardeners and growers, these are the essential parts of the fruit that are used to make a wonderful peat free compost.
Brown coir fibres are obtained by harvesting fully mature coconuts when the nutritious layer surrounding the seed is ready to be processed into copra and desiccated coconut. The fibrous layer of the fruit is then de-husked from the hard shell and the fibrous husks are soaked in pits or in nets in a slow-moving body of fresh water for a few weeks to swell and soften the fibres.
Coir waste from coir fibre industries is washed, heat-treated, screened, and graded before being processed into coco peat products of various granularity and denseness, which are then used for horticultural and agricultural applications and as industrial absorbent with a low electrical conductivity. This means that after the fibres have been washed, they are dried in the sun for a period of time before being ground down to a fine powder sometimes referred to as “coco peat” (because it is to fresh coco fibre somewhat like what peat is to peat moss, although it is not true peat).
This peat like material is then sieved and graded where it can be bagged as a loose fibrous growing material or pressed into large dry blocks, small bricks and multi sized discs.
What Can Coco Coir / Coir Peat Be Used For?
Since coco coir is organic and sterile, it’s an excellent growing medium that adds to the absorbency, water retention and drainage of potting soil and is also a fine amendment to garden soil. Use coir on its own to sprout seeds, propagate plants and provide support to the root structures of hydroponically grown plants and caring for mature plants. Coir can also be used in the garden as a soil improver, by increasing the air porosity of soils, allowing delicate plant roots to breathe and its fibrous nature aids in moisture retention.
Coco coir absorbs 30 percent more water than the traditionally used sphagnum peat moss, currently sold as garden compost and the coir is much easier to re-wet, when dry, however, coco coir tends to dry out a lot quicker, meaning your plants will need to be watered more frequently.
Unlike garden soil, coco coir is completely inert meaning plants must be externally supplied with all the nutrients needed to optimise healthy growth. This just means that slow release or organic fertilisers can be added to suit the variety of plants being grown and different plants require different foods for optimum growth, making coco peat the perfect all round growing medium.
Coco coir should always be thoroughly wet before using to plant, and it is recommended to pay careful attention to the moisture level during the growing process.
Coco coir provides a suitable substrate for horticultural use as a soilless potting medium. The material’s high lignin content is longer-lasting, holds more water, and does not shrink off the sides of the pot when dry allowing for easier rewetting. Both sphagnum peat and coir can retain up to 20 times their weight in moisture. Thus, both help moisten soil. According to some advocates, coir holds water longer and releases it more slowly than peat moss, but most research seems to show similar results with only slightly slower release rates for Coir.
Due to the increasing concern regarding the sustainability of producing sphagnum peat moss and peat from peatlands, usage of alternative growing media has been on the rise; coco coir is one of the most commonly used peat-free substitutes available to consumers and is widely used as a growing medium in intensive greenhouse horticulture.
e-Pots Coco Coir comes from India and Sri Lanka and is usually shipped in the form of compressed blocks, briquettes and discs. We pay to offset the carbon footprint of importing the coir into the UK and ensure there is no further detriment to the environment by packaging the coir in recycled plastic free packaging.
We request that the end user re-hydrate the growing medium by the addition of water, allowing the material to expand and aerate the compressed coco peat by breaking up the individual block, brick or disc.
A single kilogramme of dry coco peat will expand to 15 litres of moist coco peat.
Common uses of coco coir in the garden include:
- A substitute for peat, because it is free of bacteria and most fungal spores and is sustainably produced without the environmental damage caused by peat extraction.
- Mixed with sand, home-made compost and organic fertilisers to make a high-quality potting soil.
- Coco peat generally has an acidity in the range of pH – 5.5 to 6.5, which may be slightly too acidic for some plants, but many popular houseplants can tolerate this pH range.
- A substrate for growing mushrooms, which thrive on the cellulose. Coco peat has high cellulose and lignin
Coco fibre can be re-used up to three times with little loss of yield, however, coco peat from diseased plants should not be re-used.
Shop for Coco Coir here